To the Wikia Team:
This letter was put together to help us at GuildWiki communicate our needs and issues regarding the change in skin, Terms of Service and general feelings of malcontent with Wikia.
As you may know, we are ready to take our content to a new host that is more devoted to gaming wikis. However, any such change may be confusing to our users, drive traffic away from our wiki, and lose the few Wikia-specific elements Wikia provides. We want to make sure that an effort to express our concerns and give Wikia the opportunity to take actions that might convince us to stay.
One of the most important things we at GuildWiki must consider is our competitor, Guild Wars Wiki. GWW is the official wiki for the game. Also running on MediaWiki, GWW uses Monobook as a default and is run by ArenaNet who created Guild Wars.
We have to compete with this other wiki. If our readers don't like our wiki, they will stop using it in favor of the official wiki. To us, we can't simply work with the assumption that our readers will keep coming here for the content even if they must deal with a new skin. Regardless of "they will get used to it" and "it will help the community become more active" we must deal with the reality that we are in competition with Guild Wars Wiki. We don't want to lose our members to the official wiki in the time it takes Wikia to work out the kinks.
Many of our users also use both our wiki and the official wiki. We want them to be comfortable moving back and forth between the two and we can't do that if they look so radically different.
We appreciate that this new look, "Oasis" can be beneficial in many ways and will work great on other wikis. And there are aspects that we can accede may eventually enhance our community. However, GuildWiki relies on a massive amount of templates, tables and content that are being distorted by this change. The short time table from the start of your beta to making the skin available to making it mandatory to removing Monaco while changes are made will mean that our content will suffer. If the GuildWiki admins and contributors who do the bulk of the complex editing all leave, these things will take a long time to be corrected.
We have seen your claims that you are continuing to work on these issues. But saying that you may find a solution in the future doesn't alter the fact that people will be viewing distorted content in the interim. We don't feel that giving this skin time to work itself out will be beneficial to our readers and editors.
Our community predates Wikia's acquisition of GuildWiki. The acquisition was done largely behind the scenes and without the general consent of the community. We lost a lot of contributors over this issue and it left a bitter taste in our mouths. Our community predates Guild Wars Wiki, our competitor. We have a different philosophy, established readers, and a focus on providing encyclopedic content for the game. We have already experienced a split in our user base.Our community predates PvX Wiki, our friends who manage the builds. We know that making radical changes can split our community but we are committed to preserving the integrity of our wiki. We knew this when it was decided to move the PvX content to a separate wiki.
To summarize our issues stem from:
- Any alienation of our user base that would drive them towards the official wiki
- Reduced content space and fixed width being detrimental to a massive amount of templates and tables across our wiki
- Inability to customize the new skin sufficiently which we were able to do when Monaco was forced on us.
- Already having our community split numerous times
- Frustrations with features and functionality of the skin which are hurting the work flow of our admins and veteran contributors who are the heart of the community. The main consideration of fixed width was that it would help the users all see the same thing. Well, if our experienced users feel they have to revert to monobook to work, it will certainly prevent seeing the same thing!
- Displeasure with Wikia's response to criticism which has included:
- Only minor cosmetic change as a result of the short beta period
- Claims that Wikia is going to work on it but no offer to push back the time table until this is dealt with. Additionally, many claims are made in promises in talk pages and sometimes blog comments. There have been no official announcements. (http://www.wowwiki.com/Forum:Should_WoWWiki_leave_Wikia)
- Insistence that all sites remain uniform in appearance (except Uncyclopedia and friends which warrant special treatment) despite different purposes, content, and audience
- Restricting admin's ability to inform their community of a move of admins and core contributors to a new site
- Wikia's initial claims that we were not going to get more ads after the move to Wikia in the first place.
Therefore, we feel that unless Wikia can make some serious, hard efforts to quell our concerns (saying that you are “working on it” is not a hard effort) the community and show that being part of Wikia is to our continued benefit, those of us at GuildWiki will be relocating our efforts to document Guild Wars to a new location.
The GuildWiki administrators
GuildWiki admins are invited to sign below
—♥Jedi♥Rogue♥ 22:31, October 18, 2010 (UTC)
—Dr Ishmael 23:34, October 18, 2010 (UTC)
—JonTheMon 00:52, October 19, 2010 (UTC)
—El_Nazgir 15:28, October 19, 2010 (UTC)
— Cress Arvein 02:24, October 21, 2010 (UTC)
--Vipermagi 19:24, October 22, 2010 (UTC)
Shadowcrest 01:20, October 25, 2010 (UTC)
--User:PanSola (talk to the ) 00:01, November 4, 2010 (UTC)
And members of the community
GuildWiki non-admins are invited to sign below.
—Łô√ë îğá†ħŕášħ 23:00, October 18, 2010 (UTC)
–alistic 23:06, 18 October 2010 (UTC)
—Macros 23:20, October 18, 2010 (UTC)
— Jink 01:44, October 19, 2010 (UTC)
— Arnout aka The Emperors Angel 07:19, October 19, 2010 (UTC)
— Ariyen 08:00, October 19, 2010 (UTC)
— Qing Guang 21:30, October 20, 2010 (UTC)
-- Kirbman 22:59, October 20, 2010 (UTC)
--Toraen 23:10, 20 October 2010 (UTC)
—Dark Morelia 23:51, October 20, 2010 (UTC)
— Abased Fear 00:46, October 21, 2010 (UTC)
— Yamagawa 00:58, October 21, 2010 (UTC)
-- Chibi Moon Shadow 02:18, October 21, 2010 (UTC)
--XT-8147 03:08, October 21, 2010 (UTC)
— NylanaGreymoon 04:02, October 21, 2010 (UTC)
-- Anithira 07:03, October 21, 2010 (UTC)
-- Sotaknuck 10:01, October 21, 2010 (UTC)
-- Kittykar 10:43, October 21, 2010 (UTC)
-- RoseOfKali 13:39, October 21, 2010 (UTC)
— Immora 16:47, October 21, 2010 (UTC)
--Lania Elderfire 18:01, October 21, 2010 (UTC)
Tcol 18:37, October 21, 2010 (UTC)
Raptor 19:35, October 21, 2010 (UTC)
--Dosearius 21:07, October 21, 2010 (UTC)
--Vlad Tsepesh 00:00, October 22, 2010 (UTC)
--TaCktiX 00:26, October 22, 2010 (UTC)
--Bottle 00:35, October 22, 2010 (UTC)
The Wrath of Kahn 01:12, October 22, 2010 (UTC)
--- Ayumbhara 01:15, October 22, 2010 (UTC)
-- DKS01 02:59, October 22, 2010 (UTC)
---TwilightRhapsody 05:52, October 22, 2010 (UTC)
--TheSeer99 19:02, October 22, 2010 (UTC)
-- Lord of the Yoshis 21:43, October 22, 2010 (UTC)
-- Tigress Dragonblade 21:59, October 22, 2010 (UTC)
-- RabidCoqui 23:03, October 22, 2010 (UTC)
--Skippster 02:17, October 23, 2010 (UTC)
--Quizzical 06:40, October 23, 2010 (UTC)
Nwash 12:21, October 24, 2010 (UTC)
— Venom20 17:22, October 24, 2010 (UTC)
— Kieran Bramm 02:11, October 25, 2010 (UTC)
— Yujiko Ineluki 14:14, October 25, 2010 (UTC)
— Targren 18:22, October 25, 2010 (UTC)
— GW-Screams 20:30, October 25, 2010 (UTC)
— HHHIPPO 07:56, October 26, 2010 (UTC)
— dbush 14:19, October 26, 2010 (UTC)
→ Qelsi710 14:25, October 26, 2010 (UTC)
— FC 21:56, October 26, 2010 (UTC)
--- Cosyfiep 06:34, October 27, 2010 (UTC)
--Durga Dido 07:02, October 27, 2010 (UTC)
--Mondoblasto 07:45, October 27, 2010 (UTC)
— NilePenguin 18:26, November 3, 2010 (UTC)
— DragonStorm 06:12, November 4, 2010 (UTC)
— Omanhunter 12:14, November 4, 2010 (UTC)
--Harmony Forever 16:42, November 5, 2010 (UTC)
--- JamicaXD 16:36, November 7, 2010 (UTC)
It's been really difficult to answer this, because I absolutely understand, but I'm not sure that I can say anything that will make a big difference in how you feel.
We know that this skin isn't going to work for everyone on Wikia. No big change ever will. We want to support the Wikia community as a whole, and that's going to mean that some decisions we make may not suit individuals and what they think is best for a specific wiki. And the practical aspects of supporting the larger community and maintaining old code mean that it doesn't always make sense to introduce more exceptions (Uncyclopedia is a good example of the problems we've had in making them in the past).
That said, we do believe this skin can work for this particular wiki and this community. We may know that it's impossible to please everyone but that doesn't mean we aren't going to try!
I understand your concerns about looking similar to the official wiki - but it's also possible that the long term effect of the change will be to make this the stronger destination for both readers and editors. After all, that's the whole aim of this design. One of the major differences between this change and previous ones (coughquartzcough) is that it is much more data driven and more heavily tested. And that testing and adjustment is continuing as we learn more.
I know that one of the frustrations you've had is the delay in us making changes from feedback. We have made changes, but we also need to get data to help inform those changes and any larger ones that might be in the works. When we say "we are working on it" or "we are looking in to it" there is no intention brush you off - it's simply the case. Last week I was shown some click data and analysis from the first week of the skin being live for all visitors to Wikia. We already have data from previous stages of the testing and rollout of course, but this was our first opportunity to look at large-scale data from the actual usage of the skin on Wikia as a whole. Obviously a single week of data is going to be of limited use - for example, visitor numbers on Wikia shot up drastically at the time the skin was released... which had nothing to do with the new look (it was related to a game release).
The data did give some useful insights, and we already know there are aspects of the new look we need to review or develop further. We also see areas that are right for ongoing A/B testing and further development. All this is going to take time, longer-term data, and more iterations. There will never be a time when the site is "finished" - like any living site (and any wiki) it's always going to be a work in progress.
So, where does that leave us? This really comes down to another "please wait and see", and I don't think that's an answer that you will be able to accept. I understand your frustrations, both with the changes and our sometimes slow rate of response - we are still a small company, and we are trying to do big things. I would love those "big things" to include all of you on this wiki.